Hello, #Vivers! The first holiday period of the year is approaching, the Easter holidays. One of the things that our foreign students who come to study Spanish in Spain usually tell us is that while walking through Madrid and passing in front of some pastry shops, in their windows and among other typical sweets, they have been able to see the famous “torrijas”. But what is this typical and traditional sweet of Holy Week in Spain? Where are you from? Why do we eat at Easter? If you want to find out, just keep reading.
What are torrijas?
Torrija, a long sweet tradition in Spain, consisting of a slice of bread (not fresh, but from the previous day, or already somewhat hard) that is immersed in milk or wine and, after being coated in egg, is fried in a pan with oil. Finally, it is sweetened with honey, molasses or sugar and cinnamon is added. It is very similar to French toast.
Origin of torrijas
Torrijas are one of the oldest sweets of European origin. There is even evidence of them in a book by a famous Roman gastronome, Marcus Gavius Apicius, dated to the XNUMXth-XNUMXth century.
Although of very ancient origin, the name by which we know this sweet today, torrija, is a relatively modern term, which did not appear until 1591 in dictionaries. In Spain, torrija or torreja It appears already documented in the XNUMXth century, cited by Juan del Encina, an artist from the Spanish Pre-Renaissance at the time of the Catholic Monarchs: "Honey and many eggs to make torrejas."
Why are torrijas prepared during Holy Week?
There are various theories about the fact that its consumption is associated with Easter. One theory suggests that perhaps it is due to the need to take advantage of the leftover bread during Lent (days of fasting and penance in memory of the 40 days that Jesus Christ fasted in the desert). Since meat could not be eaten, bread was also consumed less, although families made the same amount. Others think that it has a religious meaning, since during Lent one had to look for food to fill the stomach without offending religious beliefs. So the nuns, during the days of abstinence, took advantage of stale bread, bathing it in honey and milk. Lastly, and perhaps most likely, this is simply a practical coincidence that has become a tradition.
What we do know for sure is that torrijas were offered to mothers after giving birth and to guests who were going to meet the baby, to celebrate that no one had died. Thus, torrijas were adopted to celebrate great occasions and little by little, as their ingredients were cheaper and more accessible, they became part of the everyday menu. Because all the ingredients they contain are compatible with the precepts of abstinence during Lent, it seems logical that they were incorporated at that time in order to brighten up the typical diet of those sad days a little.
The fact is that, theories aside, today torrijas have become the Easter sweet par excellence and we recommend that all students who come to study Spanish in Spain at this time try them. The truth is that they are very delicious and are not very complicated to make, although each cook or family has their own secret. For this reason, in many cities a contest is held to choose the best torrija every year.
On the other hand, the term torrija goes beyond a simple sweet and, in colloquial Spanish, has another meaning. The Royal Spanish Academy, in its different meanings of the word torrija, includes the meanings of "drunkenness", "effect of getting drunk", "drunken" and "drunken". In fact, he gives as an example of this meaning: "She was toast because she drank so much." Also, it is very common to hear the colloquial expressions "Today I'm going to get some torrija" or "What a torrija you're carrying", among other variations. In all these phrases, the term torrija refers to being drunk or getting drunk.
To finish, we want to leave you this video of Eva Arguiñano, famous Spanish cook, where she explains how to prepare torrijas.
If you are thinking about learning a new language, trying torrijas can be another incentive to come and study Spanish in Spain. In the Luis Vives Spanish School we offer you Spanish classes for all levels, perfectly adapted to your needs. In addition, we will recommend the best places to try the delicacy that we have told you about in this article. Luis Vives Spanish School The best option to learn Spanish in the heart of Madrid!